It seems that the property market is starting to pick up again after weeks in lockdown.
Many of you are eager to resume your plans to buy your first home, and to help you be better equipped, we’ve compiled a list of the essential questions every first-time buyer should ask when viewing a property.
We often hear stories of buyers who had wished they’d asked certain questions before deciding on a home. So, here are the questions we know buyers usually want to ask (or should), but often don’t:
- Why are the current owners looking to sell the house?
This information will help when it comes to putting in an offer. It’s good to find out if they are very motivated sellers who may need to move quickly, or if they’ve just put their home on the market to see what kind of interest it gets.
If they’re looking for a quick sale there could be an opportunity to offer a lower price, especially if you’re in a good position with no chain and a mortgage in principle already sorted.
- How long has the house been on the market?
The time it takes to sell a property varies depending on local market demand, the price, and type of property, so it shouldn’t put you off if it’s been on for a few months.
Normally, if it’s been on Rightmove for longer than six months there could be an opportunity to negotiate on the asking price, unless it’s already been reduced recently.
But remember that because of lockdown, many properties will have been on Rightmove for longer, but not because there is something wrong with them. It’s just that everything has been paused!
- Has the house had any major building work done recently?
It’s recommended that you have a full structural survey on a property you’d like to buy, but you can ask some questions before then as well.
You could ask on the viewing if the house has been extended and how long ago that was. It’s also worth asking if there’s any potential to extend the property, but bear in mind this will need to go through planning permission so may not be approved.
- What’s the parking situation?
If your property doesn’t come with a garage or parking space, you’ll have to work out where you can park.
Do you need a disabled parking spot on a main road, for instance? Don’t be afraid to contact the local council to find out how you can get a designated space.
- How much will the bills be?
Ask the agent if they know how much the council tax is for the area, and also have a look at the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), available on the property listing, to see how energy efficient the house is.
The EPC will tell you the current rating from A-G and the potential rating it could be if the energy efficiency is improved.
- Is the property part of a chain?
This may give you a little bargaining power. If a seller has already found their next property, they may be willing to accept a lower offer to ensure that a move happens quickly.
However, if they haven’t, you might become part of a longer chain, so you need to think about how long you’re willing to wait.
- Does the local area have any issues to be aware of?
Investigating the location properly is massively important. Do your research. Visit the house and ask neighbours what they think of the area.
Also, if you’re new to the area and will be commuting by train or bus, try and visit the area both during the day and also at night.
- What’s included in the sale?
Get as much information as you can here. For example, will any white goods, such as a dishwasher or washing machine, be included in the price?
Having these essentials already in the house will make the move feel a lot smoother as you spend the following days and weeks unpacking. If you already have your own white goods you may even be able to make some money by selling what’s been left behind.
- Who are the neighbours?
How much this answer affects your decision will vary from buyer to buyer. Noisy neighbours who party all night long could be a massive turn off for some people.
But for others, it might not be such a big deal. Alternatively, a community with really friendly neighbours may make up for any negatives a property has.